How to Increase User Generated Content Submissions with Psychology

by Sean Ogino |

How to Increase User Generated Content Submissions with Psychology

It’s clear there’s been a surge in the use of user generated content, or UGC, by marketers–according to SEMRush, 86% of businesses use it in their marketing efforts! While most of us know that solutions like visual commerce, ratings and reviews, and questions and answers increase visibility and conversions by adding authentic customer voices to brand content, it’s not always easy to increase user generated content submissions. 

We’ve provided a wealth of best practices about UGC solicitation, including specific articles about Visual Commerce solicitation and in-mail and offline reviews, as well as a reviews FAQ white paper that addresses many ways to increase user generated content. Top it all off with Annex Cloud’s Smart Engagement Algorithm, which automatically finds the best time to send engagement solicitation emails, and you shouldn’t have a problem gathering photos, videos, reviews, and Q&A content. However, in order to thoroughly optimize your UGC experience, you should understand what motivates people to share content with the brands they use and love.

While thinking about UGC, which is a form of customer participation, the marketing focus has to shift from a mere purchase behavior to psychological undercurrents. And motivation has a deep link with psychology. Without understanding the latter, the former cannot get exhibited and expounded. Thus, it becomes imperative to understand the term motivation in order to increase user generated content participation.

In general, motivation can be defined as a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. It’s an internal mechanism that separates activity from inactivity. Motivations can be divided into two types, based on different goals to rise to an action. As suggested by Ryan & Deci, intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable, and extrinsic motivations regard doing something to obtain a separable outcome. When it comes to user generated content participation, are some motivators which are intrinsic as well as altruistic, while some are predominantly extrinsic. Having a close encounter with them along with relevant examples will help you in deepening your understanding about how to increase user generated content submissions. 

UGC Motivator #1: A Chance to Be Validated

 I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show and all 30,000 had one thing in common. They all wanted validation.” This statement of Oprah Winfrey, which came when she was bidding adieu to her wildly popular TV show, highlighted the growing need of the public validation that everyone needs today. It’s part of a mental mechanism that stops at the moment when someone’s ego gets satisfied when they see that what they say or do matters to others. In a sense, the need for validation is a need to be in control and recognized. 

Tourism Australia wanted to increase user generated content involvement and used this validation aspect to their advantage. They changed their usual Facebook tactics and decided to hand the page over to the fans by inviting fans them take and post photos with the hashtag #seeaustralia.

After two years, fans are posting over 1,000 photos every day. People from all walks of life, like locals, tourists and professional and semi-professional photographers contributed with their photos that captured the scenic beauty of Australia. The participation from the people grew organically when they began to see that photos shared by them are being at the forefront of the company’s page. This ignited flame of importance converted Tourism Australia’s Facebook page is now one of the biggest destination pages in the world.


tourism australia facebook

UGC Motivator #2: A Drive for Fun

Remember that in UGC, people are generally sharing the experience that they have had with a particular brand. It’s clear, then, that in order to increase user generated content, it helps to make participation as fun as possible. 

Fanta, a beverage brand, definitely recognized this when its team took their billboard advertising to another level. They created a small photo printer in the billboard ad and ad instructed onlookers to take a selfie and publish their content to Instagram. After submitting the photos with the hashtag FantaTastesLike, they were rewarded with a printed and branded copy of their photo to take with them.



UGC Motivator #3: A Desire for the Spotlight

The need to flaunt is a primitive human emotion. The selfie just made it more visible than ever. At some point, everybody wants to tell the world that they are experiencing something great, thrilling and unforgettable. And with mobile phones, everyone is a photographer. That’s why users are twice as likely to share something if they want a friend to see it. Marketers, thus, can increase user generated content participation by catering even more to consumers’ love for the limelight.

GoPro has already moved in that direction. It began promoting #GoProMusic, which highlighted fan photos submitted from their GoPro cameras at the Bonnaroo music festival.

GoPro tapped into the early excitement that every concert goer feels. They increased user generated content submissions through a real-time marketing strategy, which was firmly designed around promoting  content as fans shared their favorite Bonaroo moments. The takeaway is, try to find out events or happenings related to your brand, and design a real time strategy around them.

UGC Motivator #4: Altruism and Community

While some consumers share UGC more for the aforementioned reasons, many write reviews, answer questions, and contribute photos or videos in order to help other shoppers or the company they’re reviewing.  Indeed, one survey about travel reviews in particular found that the largest motivator for contributors was a “need to reciprocate great experiences provided by travel and tourism companies,” while helping other consumers was second.

The tone of ‘helpful’ reviews may be negative, as users want to warn others by pinpointing the negative aspects of the product or service. It has also been observed that people want to help companies by giving honest feedback through reviews and suggestions. There are many additional benefits of negative reviews, too.

Alongside the desire to help comes the desire to belong. One study found that one of the strongest motivations to contribute UGC is one “to participate and belong to online communities.” In other words, some users contribute UGC in order to “meet new people and communicate with others.”

Marketers who want to increase user generated content on their site should take note of these findings and emphasize a sense of community.

Clif Bar & Company, an organic food and drink manufacturer, realized this and took it a step further. They began the #MeetTheMoment campaign to raise awareness about environmental concerns by donating to several non-profits for each hashtag mention that their Instagram account received.

Obviously, it is advantageous if you choose a cause that is related to your product segment. It makes your brand more desirable as for many people it’s an act of pride to be associated with a brand that believes in social responsibilities. Learn more about cause-based marketing in this post!

In Summary…

As I have put across earlier, even though many marketers have begun the use of UGC as the prime mover of their marketing schemes, not many know the actual motivators. The fact that more than 50% of consumers want some direction and guidelines for creating reviews or other content, but only 16% of brands provide any proves the gap between brands’ distance from the reality of customer psychology when it comes to UGC. That’s what creates a call for the thorough and in depth understanding of all the points that are being discussed here. The gravity of this need becomes even wider when you get to know that 92% of consumers worldwide say they trust word-of-mouth more than advertising!

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